Workplace duties or opportunities? Challenge stressors, regulatory focus, and creativity

Claudia Sacramento, Doris Fay, Michael A. West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has produced contradictory findings about the impact of challenge stressors on individual and team creativity. Based on the challenge-hindrance stressors framework (LePine, Podsakoff, & LePine, 2005) and on regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997), we argue that the effect of challenge stressors on creativity is moderated by regulatory focus. We hypothesize that while promotion focus strengthens a positive relationship between challenge stressors and creativity, prevention focus reinforces a negative relationship. Experimental data showed that high demands led to better results in a creative insight task for individuals with a strong trait promotion focus, and that high demands combined with an induced promotion focus led to better results across both creative generation and insight tasks. These results were replicated in a field R&D sample. Furthermore, we found that team promotion focus moderated the effect of challenge stressors on team creativity. The results offer both theoretical insights and suggest practical implications.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-157
Number of pages17
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • creativity
  • regulatory focus
  • challenge stressors
  • teams


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